The Big Know

Courses created by world-class brands and taught by experts

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Thanks to Product Hunt for featuring The Big Know and to all you product hunters for the positive reactions. I'm Joseph, Creative & Product Director at The Big Know. We all have a favorite brand—a company or organization that constantly inspires us to live better in some way. Locked inside just about every one of those brands is many lifetime's worth of knowledge and expertise. At The Big Know, we wanted to find a way to unlock that knowledge and share it with the world. Cue The Big Know, the world's first brand-driven online education platform. In the end, we believe by transforming brands into teachers, we'll create smarter marketing, better relationships between people and brands, and, most importantly, we think we'll improve lives in some small way. These are early days, but we're all excited to explore the idea of "brand as teacher" and to continue sprinting down TBK's feature road map. So, who am I? I am a former agency man (Zeus Jones and GoKart Labs), part-time founder (Hum), and moonlighting children's book author (Beyond the Pond). I oversee product design, branding, and course creative here at The Big Know. I am on this road with a whole troop of amazing thinkers, like Don Smithmier, Tom Godfrey, Allison Gage, Brady Anderson, DauNae Clark, Adam Ramerth, and AJ Weydt, along with the team at GoKart Labs. Together, we're bringing The Big Know into the world. Happy to answer any questions you might have.
@josephkuefler Wow Joseph. This could be an incredibly useful tool in the advertising space. Could replace a lot of "trial and error" learnings by taking lessons from big brands.
@robcromer @josephkuefler Thank you for the comment, Robert. We are, of course, biased, but we believe placing "campaigns of learning" at the center of your digital and marketing strategies will make every aspect of brand marketing better. Courses can so easily become a connector between all ecosystem touchpoints, from products to partner services to anything else. And yes, all the lessons learned from courses can be used to make larger spends more effective, be it related to TV, physical experiences, or new products. Beginning a relationship by delivering something of value—by BEING what someone is interested in— will provide a massive halo over any brand. That's our hunch anyway....
@josephkuefler I can see that being the case! Also, I believe this would be helpful in streamlining strategy across all departments in an agency. There can be a lot of back and forth around advertising concepts and execution. Tools like this offer direction in that area.
I like the concept, quite a novel approach and I believe there is a lot to learn (about success and failure) from a lot of brands. One question I would have is about 'trust'. How do I know that as a 'student' of one of the courses, I am not just part of a marketing campaign by company X in partnership with The Big Know. In other words, how is the course content developed/curated in terms of your involvement vs big brand involvement? Would be great to get a sneak peek into a sample course perhaps without having to sign up (I see the curriculum but want to see how the brand is tied in with a course or are they simply sponsoring it) I like the courses so far. Cheers!
Hey @josephkuefler! Digging the concept here. There's a storied tradition of brand-as-educator marketing here in the Twin Cities (hello Betty Crocker), and this seems like a natural evolution of that paradigm for the digital age. Question: are there specific industries or market verticals that you think will benefit from a tool like this more than others? And if so, how did those assumptions inform the design of the product? Congrats on the launch... looking forward to watching it grow and evolve!
@jgulden Hey, Josiah. You are right, there is a longstanding tradition of brands building their entire business around the sharing of knowledge. Betty Crocker is a great example of that. As a matter of fact, the idea for The Big Know came to be as Don was leaving a meeting at General Mills. We believe just about every vertical can benefit from the "brand as teacher" idea. The only difficulty comes in deciding what from within their world is worth teaching. Brands and businesses that operate in the health and wellness space were an obvious place to start—in looking around at the broader world of online learning, we knew that health/wellness/personal betterment was a core area of interest for people. But that's just the beginning for us. Lifestyle-driven brands selling tangible goods, like Patagonia or TREK, are exciting possible teachers. Retailers or product curators, like Whole Foods, Target or REI, are also a perfect fit, as they can surround a bunch of related products with more value through courses. We're in advanced talks with a number of household brands interested in exploring a future with us. All of our conversations with them help to better guide our roadmap and feature set.
Hey, @sarthakgrover. Thanks for the comment and questions. We totally agree that a preview of course content prior to registration/enrollment will be a great addition. It's on our roadmap, as a matter of fact. Step one was to erect the marketing and learning environments. Steps 2 through infinity will be to lower the walls between those worlds strategically. really is paramount here. That's why we develop the courses in-house in collaboration with the brands. We have learning strategists and architects on our team that work with brands and their experts to develop amazing courses that deliver on key learning objectives, all in a manner that aligns with a brand's business/brand/cultural strategies. Take the Purpose course we're offering, for example...Richard is a guru of purpose, but he's also a key thought leader at Life Reimagined. He is of their organization. He's not just a hired hand. It was our job to translate his expertise into an engaging online course. We've also gone to great lengths to ensure marketing can't overwhelm learning. Our platform is ad free, our experience is quite controlled, and everything passes through our team to ensure everything exists to support the learning strategy. We aren't foolish enough to think that we'll prove to the world that we're trustful tomorrow. But we know success for the movement of "brand as teacher" requires us to control more of the process and experience now—to teach the world to teach, if you will. Sadly, many brands, marketers, and people need to be shown there is a better way and that that better way will lead to better results, for everyone. We're all so used to disingenuous marketing, it's what we've come to expect. We're hopeful though!
@josephkuefler Thanks for your response, you are off to a great 1st step. Glad to see that you recognize the challenging in building the trust specially when it comes to involving Brands and building your own content around it. Looking forward to the courses you have setup so far. Goodluck!
@sarthakgrover No, thank you! Take care.
Clever idea. You're walking a fine line with consumer trust, as I believe @sarthakgrover hinted at, but think there's plenty of opportunity in this space. I know from my experience at The Brandery, many brands are interested in working with startups and extending their reach as domain experts. This is a novel approach if you can generate enough consumer interest and position your brand as a respectable curator of educational content. Best of luck. Looking forward to learning how I can "Live Better, Longer." Side note: In terms of quick product feedback, I'm less interested in the brand than I am the title of the class and author of it. Understandably, it seems like there's a lot of emphasis on the brand by placing their logo above the title (on the landing page). It may be just me, but I automatically register that as an ad and disregard it. I understand that's the "point" of the site, but it's hard to untrain my brain. In terms of my motivation, I'd rather see a class I'm interested in, taught by a teacher who I perceive as being highly qualified, that a lot of people are already enrolled in and then endorsed or provided by a brand I trust. Not the other way around.
@drwolanin This is great feedback, John. I can definitely see what you mean. It's a real struggle building a single ecosystem to house a number of brands with competing needs and visual systems. We've tried to level the playing field. But I definitely see what you mean about the relationship and hierarchy between the title and brand. I will definitely consider this.